The impact of snow losses on solar photovoltaic systems in North America in the future

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Great Lakes Research Center


Snow loss estimations of solar photovoltaic (PV) systems in northern latitudes are important as project financing requires highly accurate energy generation estimates to provide long-term performance guarantees. As the climate changes, annual snowfall is changing. This study quantifies the losses to potential PV electricity generation due to snow, for all areas of the Northern Western Hemisphere now and for 2040, 2080 and 2100 for climate change scenarios SSP126 and SSP585. Results show in 20 years even in the most optimistic SSP126 scenario many areas in the northern U.S. and southern Canada will be reduced below 5% snow losses. In the more pessimistic SSP585 scenario, heavy snow regions become nearly snowless. Overall, climate change is substantially reducing snow losses for PV systems over most of North America. As such the time dependent reduction in snow losses for a PV in northern latitudes should be included in modeling of the life cycle performance.

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Energy Advances